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Resource for social care providers supporting refugees to work in social care.


The Welsh Government supports the employment of refugees and people displaced from Ukraine. Access to employment is important for people in building new lives in Wales. There are many benefits in employing international workers. They bring language skills, cultural insight, resilience, and resourcefulness into any team.

As a social care provider, you can employ any person from overseas, including refugees. You must make sure they are suitable to work in social care and have the skills and qualifications for the role. You must meet the regulations that they are a fit person for the role intended, as you would with any member of staff.

Immigration is not a devolved matter and sits with the UK Government. Welsh Government continues to work with the Home Office on the effects of immigration policy in Wales.

Right to work in the UK: legal status of refugees and other protected statuses

A refugee is someone who crossed an international border to flee persecution. Sometimes the term refugee is applied more broadly to those who are fleeing war.

Refugee status

Refugee status is given to someone who had their claim approved under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (the Refugee Convention) and has been granted leave to remain in the UK. Refugees are not restricted in the type of work they are permitted to undertake in the UK. Their work permission is valid for the length of their granted leave. They can apply for further leave to remain.

Other protection statuses

Some sanctuary seekers are not awarded refugee status, as they do not meet the legal definition of a refugee. They may be offered other forms of protection. The following groups are also not restricted in the type of work they can undertake. They can access benefits in the UK (unless specified on their Biometric Residence Permit):

  • people who were granted Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave
  • people from Afghanistan arriving under the ARAP or ACRS schemes
  • people arriving from Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the Ukraine Family Scheme

We will be using the term "refugee" to refer to all the above. Where available we offer specific information for displaced people from Ukraine.

An asylum seeker has a different status to a refugee.

Right to work checks

All employers must check the right to work for the person they intend to recruit. Guidance is available on the UK Government website.

Information for providers considering employing refugees

Employment rights and recognition of qualifications

How to employ people from Ukraine provides information on employment rights, and recognition of qualifications. It also provides information on accessing help with language needs.

Support for employers

Business Wales provides a range of support for employers. The ReAct+ programme is available to employers of refugees. Employers can apply for support with wages, training, certain expenses and more.

How you can help the people of Ukraine provides information about translation and helplines.

The ReStart migrants and employment project has ended, but useful information is still available:

Social Care Wales offers a 3 day introduction to social care course. The course does not lead to registration or replace employer checks.

Regulation and registration for refugees to be employed in social care

The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016 also applies to refugees. So do the regulations made under it. The specific requirements for the fitness of someone working for a registered social care provider are set out in:

  • part 10 of the Regulated Services (Service Providers and Responsible Individuals) (Wales) Regulations 2017 ("the Regulations")

Registration means social care workers are part of a professional workforce. They can show they have skills and knowledge vital to providing good care and support.

Whether registration is needed depends on the role. A person must register with Social Care Wales if they are employed providing care and support in one of the following:

  • a care home for children
  • secure accommodation
  • a domiciliary support service
  • a adult care home service
  • a residential family centre service

Applications to register must be endorsed. This is to confirm that there are no reasons why the person should not be on the register. A person from a list of approved people in the organisation can endorse the application. Social Care Wales takes a supportive approach to refugee applicants and their employers. For more information contact the registration team on

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks and other regulatory requirements

DBS checks are mandatory in Wales for everyone working in in social care, and therefore required for refugee applicants. Most refugees and people from Ukraine will have enough documents to apply for DBS.

What information do I need from the refugee applicant?

The service provider must have the following information:

  • name and date of birth
  • information about the person’s qualifications, experience relating to the specific role and evidence of relevant qualifications if any
  • proof of identity (including a copy of the person’s passport and birth certificate if any)
  • a recent photograph
  • 2 written references including a reference from the last employer if any
  • full employment history, with a written explanation of any gaps
  • an Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check
  • a criminal record check via home country embassy if appropriate
  • eligibility to work in the UK (required by immigration law)
  • details of registration with / membership of any professional body
  • where a person has before worked in a position which involved work with children or vulnerable adults, verification of the reason why the employment or position ended, if practicable
  • evidence of linguistic ability for role

The person applying for a job has not lived in the UK before. Will DBS checks still be required?

Yes, a provider needs to undertake a DBS check on all staff. This includes refugees or other workers who have recently arrived in the UK. The individual may have been in the UK before. DBS does have information sharing agreements with some countries. Advice on applying for a DBS is available from:

Ukrainian nationals who need help can contact UK Visas and Immigration by calling:

  • +44 (0)808 164 8810 (select option 1)

The person l want to recruit has limited identification documentation (ID). What can I accept?

The DBS ID guidelines make it possible to submit "documents from local or central government that demonstrate entitlement to benefit" for ID purposes. These documents, alongside ID provided by the Home Office, should meet the DBS criteria.

The Home Office should provide temporary ID for people from Ukraine. Once the Home Office has captured and processed their biometric information, they will get a Biometric Residence Permit.  

DBS checks are UK only. Are there other checks when employing a person who's new to Wales / the UK? Are international checks risky for the applicant?

The Regulations do not require extra criminal record checks to be undertaken on prospective staff members. But if routine checks do not offer a full history, it would be reasonable for providers to seek further assurance of the suitability of the person. This step should be taken where:

  • it is not a risk for the applicant if their home country authorities know their current location
  • there is a working process for criminal records checks

The individual’s background and reasons for not wishing for a police check from the home country would have to be considered in each case. Providers should discuss this sensitively with the applicant and seek their approval, if they decide that an additional police check is required.

There are different application processes for criminal records checks ("certificates of good character"). The process that you should follow depends on the country you are applying to.

Providers/individuals should apply in the country or to the relevant embassy in the UK.

People from Ukraine can apply for a criminal record check via the Ukrainian Embassy. The person will need an electronic signature to make their application. The information provided to the individual will be in Ukrainian.

The person will then need to apply for a letter from the Ukrainian Embassy. This will confirm the information in English. This letter can be used in the UK.

More information is available on the UK Government website.

The individual seeking employment only has a few personal contacts to provide references. Is this acceptable?

The Regulations state that the provider must get two written references. It is always preferable to get references from the most recent employers. This is not always possible in circumstances where people have been displaced due to war or conflict. In such cases personal references can be acceptable.

The Regulations do not specify how long a referee should have known a person for. Providers would need to follow up on any reference given. They should establish the authenticity of referees/references. This could be by telephone or via email. It is good practice to make notes of the conversation. This can include the date and time of the conversation. It can also include answers to questions asked. These notes can help to show how a provider determined that a reference was genuine.

Risk management

It is important to carry out all pre-employment checks. It can be helpful to record your checks in a pre-employment risk assessment. This risk assessment could consider:

  • any declarations the individual may have made including about past offences
  • if they are a "fit" person for the role
  • any discussions you have had with the applicant about their criminal records checks

You should meet with the applicant to allow them to respond to any concerns.

You need to safeguard and protect people in your service. This is regardless of whether the person has a criminal record. Having a criminal record does not necessarily mean the person will present a risk to people. The absence of a criminal record does not mean a person does not present a risk.

You also need to make sure your recruitment is safe for the applicant. It can be a risk for refugees if their home country authorities know their current location. You should discuss this with the applicant.

It is your duty as an employer to assess and manage risks identified during recruitment.

Support and duty of care

The key to success is how you support your new staff to settle into their new role, and into the community. It is important to keep in regular contact with the people you are recruiting. This provides key support and starts building relationships.

Here are examples of the support that social care providers can offer:

  • including new recruits into online team groups, which fosters relationships between new recruits and the team
  • organising meetings (virtual / face to face) between existing and new staff members
  • offering welcome packs such as groceries, items that are useful at work, household items
  • establishing a buddy system to help people into work and the team
  • helping with administration, for example filling in forms
  • helping the recruit and their family to get to know the area by offering a local guide, which can include the workplace, shops, schools, childcare, transport
  • providing recruits with local information about ethnic, cultural or religious community networks and other relevant support

Finding accommodation can be challenging for refugees. Many employers secure accommodation for their recruits, for at least the first four weeks. This supports individuals during this particularly challenging time. Feedback suggests that locating secure, longer-term, affordable accommodation can be difficult. The availability of appropriate accommodation will vary depending on your location. It is advisable to plan well in advance.

The Refugee Council website has comprehensive information on the support and information available for people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. It also offers links to support organisations.

Modern slavery awareness

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. Refugees and other displaced people are especially vulnerable to modern slavery practices.

Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality, or ethnicity. Sometimes people are the victim of a trick or can be subject to a threat which forces them to work. They may feel unable to leave or report the crime through fear or intimidation. They may not recognise themselves as a victim.

There have been recent cases of modern slavery in the care sector in Wales, and it is important to be aware of the signs.

More information is available on modern slavery and what to do:

Advice about your responsibilities as an employer is available from Acas. The Welsh Government promotes fair work and has produced a code of practice on ethical employment in supply chains.

If you have concerns about labour abuse and exploitation, please report this to the Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) or the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline on 08000 121 700 (or online).

Other recruitment resources